Paul and Gilli Lipscombe have made a huge impact since landing in the Huon Valley a few years ago. Not only have they crafted a Jimmy Watson Trophy winner for Home Hill at Ranelagh, they've also converted a derelict vineyard at Cradoc into one of Tasmania's finest pinot noir vineyards. Having sold out of their first three vintages of pinot (2012, 13 and 14) at $45 a bottle, this is their first crack at chardonnay from their own vines and it is an absolute ripper, justifying their faith in the Huon as a first-class arena for chardonnay. This is beautifully put together, linear and crisp, minerally and textural and taut; think tightly-coiled ballerina in style. Great drinking now, but with cellaring potential. I'm happy to give this 93/100. Be quick. Sales have been brisk. $45. https://sailorseekshorse.com.au
Monday, 20 March 2017
Tasmania is the "go to" state for Australia's finest sparkling wines and Freycinet Vineyard's Radenti is one of the standouts, if and when it is available. Claudio Radenti only makes sparkling wine in rare years (the release before this was 2002). This a traditional blend of chardonnay and pinot noir fruit from Tasmania's east coast, and offers a glorious amalgam of citrus and brioche aromas. Elegant, long and intense, with a lightness of being, this also has yeasty complexity after four years on lees. A very classy companion for canapes and seafood. $66. www.freycinetvineyard.com.au.
Saturday, 4 March 2017
A new vintage from the much-acclaimed Pressing Matters collection of high-quality rieslings at various grades of residual sugar; from R0 to R139. This dry wine (9 grams of residual sugar per litre) is singing a beautiful tune right now, with just a hint of sweetness making it a perfect partner for Thai and Vietnamese dishes and an affordable Australian alternative for lovers of classic German Riesling styles. Beautifully balanced at 12.23% alcohol. Pressing Matters is based in the Coal River Valley and is family owned and operated. Well worth seeking out. $36. www.pressingmatters.com.au.
Wednesday, 1 March 2017
Home Hill rose to national fame with its Jimmy Watson Trophy win a couple of years ago, but within Tasmania it had been known for a decade or more as a benchmark for quality pinot noir. This is the No.2 wine in the Home Hill pecking order behind the acclaimed Kelly's Reserve but it offers complexity, immediate drinking pleasure and cellaring potential. Owner Terry Bennett is obsessive in the Home Hill vineyard at Ranelagh in the Huon Valley and Paul and Gilli Lipscombe do a great job in the winery. This is dark and intense, with rich blackcurrant fruit notes, spicy oak and beautiful balance. Gloriously good drinking. Tasmanian pinot at its best. $45.
Sunday, 12 February 2017
Holm Oak is the only Tasmanian winery to produce wines made from the textural northern Italian grape variety arneis. and one of only a handful in Australia. This is aromatic and appealing - another successful arrow to the quiver of husband and wife team Rebecca and Tim Duffy, winemaker and viticulturist respectively. All their wines are estate grown, made and bottled at their farm at Rowella in the Tamar Valley. This is well worth seeking out next time you feel the need to try something different. Pair with whitebait or flathead and chips. $25. www.holmoakvineyards.com.au.
Saturday, 4 February 2017
Michael O'Brien has worked as viticulturist at several vineyards in Tasmania and clearly has a keen eye for a good one; sourcing some excellent fruit for his Domaine Dawnelle label against fierce competition. This is a new-release riesling - his first - and it is mighty impressive. Made from fruit from several (cooler) southern Tasmanian vineyards, this is made from lightly pressed whole bunches, cool fermented and matured in stainless steel. It's all about the fruit; intensely citrusy with crisp natural acid. Great with Thai dishes. $36. www.domainedawnelle.com.
Tuesday, 17 January 2017
From an exceptional vintage in Tasmania, this is the first family reserve pinot noir from the Dunbabin family at Swansea on the East Coast. A small parcel of fruit from (relatively) old vines was put away for mature release and the end result is an absolute ripper. I don't expect to see many pinots better than this over the next 12 months; it is still young at almost five years of age, intensely flavoured but soft and silky with rich, sweet, dark fruit notes and plenty of length. The family reserve wines are only released in special vintages and this is certainly a special occasion wine with 40% whole bunch in the pressings and time in quality oak. Poised and elegant with hints of earthy sophistication. Only 34 cases were made so speed is of the essence.
Friday, 6 January 2017
Joe Holyman, former first-class wicketkeeper turned winemaker, is an eccentric and an iconoclast. From his natural wine, known as "Brian", to Tasmania's only version of the Austrian white grape variety gruner veltliner, Holyman's wines can be relied upon to challenge and entertain. This is the sixth gruner release from his Tamar Valley vines, unfined and unfiltered, a little off the wall but certainly well worth sampling. Think fresh lemon, rose petals, chicory and refreshment. Holyman recommends, tongue-in-cheek, pairing it with chicken pho or pork tacos. In fact, it is very versatile. He describes it as "the most gruner-like gruner we have made". $32. www.stoneyrise.com